Alfredo Di Stefano Honoured
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter travelled to Madrid on 17 February to attend a special tribute night for Alfredo di Stefano, a man he described as a “philosopher on the pitch”. Blatter paid homage to the values enshrined by the Argentinian, in particular his “loyalty to his team and colleagues”, and admitted that the legendary former Real Madrid football striker had been “one of his boyhood heroes”. The emotion-filled day began with a gathering at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium, where the “Blond Arrow” enjoyed the most successful spell of his career. The 81-year-old was named as an Honorary President of UEFA, with the European body dubbing him “a great among greats”. The celebrations then moved on to Real Madrid’s Cuidad Deportiva in Valdebebas, where a statue of the football player was unveiled. The figure, a stone and bronze sculpture created by the artist Pedro Montes, depicts Di Stefano celebrating a goal. The FIFA President, who also hailed the Argentinian as “a living legend”, announced that he would propose to the FIFA Congress in Sydney that Di Stefano’s name be used in a worldwide Fair Play football campaign. In addition to Blatter, among those present at the tribute were UEFA President Michel Platini, Spanish FA President and FIFAVice-President Angel Maria Villar Llona, Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon, Spanish Secretary of State for Sport Jaime Lissavetzky, Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco, Mayor of Madrid Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, the entire Real Madrid squad and a group of former football players including Eusebio, Raymond Kopa, Francisco Gento, Fernando Hierro and Emilio Butragueno.